Hoover v. Weltzer, M.D.

In this nursing malpractice case, the New Jersey Appellate Division vacated the trial court’s order that granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The plaintiff treated with the doctor/co-defendant for problems with her left knee. The nurse/defendant assisted the doctor with a surgery. The plaintiff sued, alleging negligence in the performance of the surgery. Shortly after filing suit, the plaintiff filed and served a single Affidavit of Merit (AOM) applicable to all the defendants. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon, who has experience performing total knee replacement surgery, executed the AOM. The trial court granted the nurse’s motion to dismiss the claims against her for failure to serve an AOM authored by an equivalently qualified nurse or physician. The Appellate Division reversed, finding that the AOM’s author was an expert who satisfied section 27 of the AOM statute. The plaintiff need not have filed an AOM from a registered nurse. The Court noted, “Whether and to what extent the AOM’s author may serve as an expert against the defendant at trial remains to be fleshed out in discovery, and we express no opinion on that subject.”

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